Valentine’s Day. For single people in America (who would like to be in romantic relationships), this can be one of the most excruciating days of the year. Everywhere you look, happy couples will be there: delivering gifts to each other at work, crowding your favorite restaurant, and taking over your Instagram feed. You’ve barely recovered from the holidays with your family, where you likely spent a good amount of time answering questions about your love life, and WHAM. Here comes Valentine’s Day to add insult to injury.
It can be hard to get through with your sanity intact. So first, let’s talk about how to handle it; then, let’s talk about how to avoid having this same conversation next year.
Get Through It: Happily Single
If you’re a single person who isn’t looking to be coupled up, you might also have to deal with the misconception that Valentine’s Day is a depressing reminder of your singledom. Other people’s expectations can be frustrating, especially when they’re totally off base. So how do you deal with the pressure you might get from the assumption that you want to be in a relationship?
When you’ve got your mom or friend awkwardly asking if you’ll be ok to be by yourself on Valentine’s, try to remember it’s probably coming from a good place. It’s often hard for people to understand that you may not be looking for a partner right now, and that’s ok. What your (good) friends and family will really want for you is to be happy. So an honest conversation that
lets them know you are happy, even if that happiness doesn’t look exactly how they expect it to look, can really help. And remember, we’re talking only about the people who know you, love you, and want the best for you. A gentle reminder that you’re living life on your terms and it’s working great for you will be well received and (might) help ease the anxiety of your protective loved ones.
For the expectations of those outside your circle—society, your shocked coworker (“You’re not doing anything tonight?”), the grocery store clerk, etc., it’s a little different. If it feels like you need to be, you’re well within your rights to let those people know you’re good without their opinions and quite happy to be single and free on this (and every other) day,
thankyouverymuch. Or, just ignore them. The odds that you’ll change their mind about your decision to be single are not great, and your time is better spent planning your awesome Saturday night. Understanding yourself and staying true to the part of you that prefers being single is awesome, and that self awareness isn’t always present in people who rush into relationships to avoid being alone.
Get Through It: Single and Looking
So first thing’s first—the holiday is looming, and you aren’t in a relationship. Don’t panic, and don’t rush out and find the first single person you lay eyes on to rush into a “get me through the holiday” relationship.
Do you have other friends who are also single? If so, use the day as an opportunity to catch up with buddies and just enjoy each other’s company. If all your friends are attached, think about that list of things you’ve been putting off: starting that new book you’ve been wanting to read, catching up on all your DVR’d TV shows, checking out that hike and bike trail you’ve been eyeing.
The key here is, do your best to treat it like any other day, and enjoy some time to yourself. If the day is about relationships—why not celebrate the relationship you have with yourself? The other kind won’t work if you don’t have that.
Which brings us to our next point…
Take Time to Plan for Next Year
If what you really want is a committed relationship, let’s take a moment to figure out why you don’t have that. Be honest with yourself. Seriously. Are you putting yourself out there? We don’t mean going out and socializing. We mean when the chance for a new relationship comes along, do you take it seriously? Consider these common mistakes people are making when looking for a relationship.
Check Your Patterns
Take a moment and think of the last few people you’ve dated. What are the patterns? Are you dating the same kind of person again and again? This can be a really tough one, because many people are attracted to partners that aren’t good for them or aren’t truly available. If you find this is something you struggle with, here’s the cold, hard truth: you’re going to have to make yourself stop it. Did you know when you fall in love, your brain is intoxicated with chemicals that keep you from seeing flaws in your partner? It’s true. Your judgment is completely out of whack during that head over heels state we all love so much, and it often leads to us picking the wrong people. So the best you can do is prepare for that moment before you get there, when you still have your good judgment.
Know What You’re Looking For, And Be Realistic
Nobody wants to date the person who has a long list of requirements for anyone they go out with (you know the lists we’re talking about). That’s not sexy. But knowing what you want? That’s sexy. Take some time and identify what you’re looking for in your life. Do you want children? Then you need to look for someone who will be a good parent. Is religion important for you? What does commitment mean to you, and are you looking for marriage? Thinking about your long-term goals will help you identify the things that you should be at the top of your
If You’re Really Looking for a Relationship, Prioritize It!
It’s not uncommon for people to expect love to fall in their laps, then find themselves frustrated when it hasn’t happened. The odds aren’t great that you’ll meet your sweetie when you’re sitting on your couch in sweatpants after another 16-hour workday. If finding a relationship is important to you, then treat it with the same value as you would in finding a new job or place to live. Dedicate the time to meeting new people and expanding your social circle.
One caveat here: we know that meeting new people and being available aren’t the only important factors. (See Check Your Patterns above.) It’s not as easy as joining a new running group, we know. Just because you put yourself out there to meeting new people, doesn’t mean you’ll find the one you’re looking for right away. But we know one thing for sure—you’re a lot less likely to meet Mr. or Mrs. Right if you don’t prioritize the search.
Would YOU Want to Date You?
Finally, and perhaps most importantly: be the kind of person you would want to date. Courteous, interested in other people, easygoing…these are traits most everyone is looking for, including the person you want to date.
Again, you won’t necessarily find your partner just by being likable, but you definitely won’t find him or her if you’re not.
To sum up…
No matter how you look at it… Happy Valentine’s Day! If it’s what you’re looking for, we hope to find you trolling on the Internet looking for ways to surprise your sweetie with the best V-Day gift of all next year. If not, you’ve got a whole year to work towards a better, happier, you!